Driverless cars could lead to more traffic congestion

  Last updated June 5, 2020 at 5:25 pm


Commuter attitudes towards ride-sharing and car ownership are getting in the way of the transition to driverless cars.

driverless cars_traffic congestion_traffic

Why This Matters: Sharing is caring – and the key to cutting down traffic congestion.

Driverless car could worsen traffic congestion in the coming decades according to new research.

The research from the University of Adelaide indicates that this congestion could be partly because of drivers’ attitudes to the emerging technology and a lack of willingness to share their rides.

Using the City of Adelaide as a test model, researchers surveyed more than 500 commuters, including a mix of those who travel to work by car and public transport, and modelled the potential impacts. The results are published in the journal Urban Policy and Research.

Autonomous or driverless vehicles are likely to have profound effects on cities. Being able to understand their impact will help to shape how our communities respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead,” says study co-author Raul Barreto.

Commuters attitudes are affecting the autonomous vehicle transition

The research investigated commuters’ views on autonomous vehicle ownership and use, vehicle sharing, and their attachment to conventional vehicles.

Researchers then explored potential vehicle flow, with a mix of autonomous and conventional vehicles, and land use change in the Adelaide CBD under different scenarios.

Also: Humans (and other intelligent animals) might ruin the autonomous vehicle utopia

“Our findings show that Adelaide has the potential to significantly reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and improve traffic flows, however these benefits may not be achieved in the near to medium term for many reasons,” Barreto says.

“The key factors affecting the transition to autonomous vehicles are commuter attitudes to car ownership and wanting to drive themselves, rather than have technology do it for them, as well as the price of new technology, and consumer attitudes to car sharing.”

Most commuters aren’t interested in ride sharing

The researchers say the evidence suggests that when riders switch to autonomous vehicles, there will be an adverse effect on public transport. In turn, this could lead to an increase in traffic congestion.

Also: Shared driverless cars could reduce traffic by 80%

“With most commuters not interested in ride sharing, this could increase peak period vehicle flows, which is likely to increase traffic congestion over the next 30 years or so,” says Barreto.

“Under both scenarios we tested, the number of vehicles overall will eventually drop. However, total vehicle trips may increase, and some of the predicted benefits of autonomous vehicles may not eventuate until a lengthy transition period is complete.”

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